An environmental impact study to determine if a site on the Bluff is suitable for the relocation of Cayman Brac’s dump is nearing completion, according to the Cayman Islands Ministry of Works.
The relocation of the dump on South Side West Road, almost opposite the island’s public beach, to a site on Songbird Drive on the island’s elevated Bluff has been discussed for years.
In response to queries about plans for the landfill on Cayman Brac, the Ministry of District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture issued a statement to the Caymanian Compass this week. It stated: “The Brac landfill is still being proposed to be relocated on the Bluff as part of the 100 acres that was originally purchased for a multi-purpose facility.
“However, the environmental impact assessment of the Bluff site should be completed soon. Once the report has been completed, it will be reviewed and a decision taken as to the better location of the landfill site and operations.”
The statement continued: “In the meanwhile, the existing landfill will remain open with improvements in operation. On a regular basis, a team from Grand Cayman will lend assistance to the Brac team in an effort to keep the landfill under control. In addition, some changes will be necessary as to when, where and time that the public can enter the site and dispose of their waste.”
Relocating the landfill has been on the cards for years.
In the past, previous ministers of works, including Linford Pierson and Arden McLean, have said work was under way to close the existing waste disposal facility and develop a new one.
Residents living near the existing dump on the south side of the island have complained that fires have been erupting more frequently, with a persistent fire burning there over the Christmas weekend.
The ministry acknowledged that the landfill site had been periodically experiencing fires during the past year. But the ministry insisted that as soon as a fire is detected, the Cayman Brac Fire Services respond to extinguish it and an officer from the Department of Environmental Health and solid waste workers provide “necessary assistance”.
“Sometimes, when you believe that the fire is extinguished, it could still be burning deep underneath the landfill. Therefore, this makes complete extinguishing of the fire very difficult; subsequently, the ‘deep-seated’ fire will flare up again in a different place in the landfill at another time,” according to the ministry’s statement.
The ministry said the Department of Environmental Health, which manages the landfill, does not set fires at the dump deliberately as a means of control.
“Unfortunately, whenever there is a landfill fire … smoke and air pollution will likely … occur. This is one of the reasons why the Department of Environmental Health strives to have the fire under control as promptly as possible by working in collaboration with the Cayman Brac Fire Services, District Administration and the Brac Public Works Department,” the ministry said.
“[L]andfill fires could also be caused through combustion occurring within the landfill itself. The cause of the recent fire has not been determined,” the statement continued.
According to the ministry, which is headed by Deputy Premier and Sister Islands MLA Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, the Department of Environmental Health will be making improvements to the Brac landfill site starting this month and during the next few months “in an effort to better manage the waste disposed on the site”.
“This effort includes finding the deep-seated “hot area” that keep flaring up and causing a fire. In addition, other appropriate measures will be explored to minimise the threat of a fire and to better organise the areas for disposing waste,” the ministry said.
Dealing with the landfills on both the Sister Islands was one of the elements included in a request for proposals to manage Cayman’s garbage issued through the Central Tenders Committee in 2010, which asked proposers to outline future solid waste management options for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
Although a US-based garbage disposal company called Wheelabrator was selected in that request for proposals, development company Dart has signed a nonbinding agreement with the government to remediate the George Town landfill on Grand Cayman and supply land in Bodden Town to create a new dump. The arrangement with Dart does not appear to include the Sister Islands.
“It has always been the intention of the government to manage the solid wastes on the Sister Islands. Therefore, the Department of Environmental Health will continue to conduct operations and implement appropriate measures to improve the standards of waste management operation at the Sister Island landfills.
“Recycling efforts will improve and the scrap metals from the existing site will soon be removed. The government is committed to having a properly constructed and engineered waste management solution implemented on the Sister Islands landfills,” the Ministry of Works statement said.